Winnifred Harper Cooley

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Winnifred Harper Cooley (October 2, 1874 – October 20, 1967) was a U.S. author and lecturer.

Early life[edit]

Born in Terre Haute, Indiana, she was the daughter of Ida Husted Harper.[1]

Cooley graduated in 1896 with an A.B. in Ethics from Stanford University.[2]

Personal life[edit]

In 1899, she married George Elliot Cooley, a Unitarian minister.[2] The couple lived in Vermont and Michigan before finally settling in New York City.[2] Cooley was widowed in 1926.[2]

Professional life[edit]

Cooley was a prolific writer.[1] Her best known work is The New Womanhood (1904). In The New Womanhood, Cooley lists the achievements of the New Woman as 1- education (lower, higher, professional), 2- employment (industrial, commercial), and 3- recognition (legal and civil).[3]

In "The Younger Suffragists" (1913), Cooley distinguishes herself and the "younger feminists" from the "older suffragists" and their idea that gaining the ballot will change the world for women.[4] Although the term would become widespread in the 1960s and 1970s, only a small group of women called themselves feminists in the early 20th century.[5][6] Cooley was among this first generation of self-proclaimed feminists. According to Cooley, "A suffragist is always a feminist, but a suffragist is not always a feminist."[6] Cooley saw the suffragists as more conservaitive than the broader outlooked feminists.[6] For feminists, suffrage was a path to complete social revolution.[4]

Beginning in 1923, Cooley hosted a biweekly dinner forum facetiously called "The Morons" which drew as many as 300 attendees.[2]


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